Leinster boss Leo Cullen hits out at EPCR over ‘illogical’ approach

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has criticized the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), organizers of the Heineken Champions Cup, for what he believes is an “illogical” approach to settling call-off matches.

The head of yesterday’s clash with Montpellier, the former captain, voiced his opposition to France’s 28–0 win of the tournament after his medical committee decided it was not safe for Leinster to travel to France.

Subsequently, five matches of the Champions Cup between the British and French teams were postponed due to the travel restrictions of the French government. This week, the EPCR decided to cancel those matches and hold them down as a 0-0 draw.

Cullen says the decision would have huge financial implications for the province who were targeting home quarters and semi-finals at the top of their pool, something they are unlikely to be able to do as a result of the game not going ahead.

As well as the perceived inconsistency between those decisions, Cullen drew attention to the fact that Castres’s game against Munster was allowed to go ahead last night, despite the fact that the home team had postponed their trial on Wednesday. Round recorded six positive cases.

Although Leinster is deeply upset by what he sees as an inconsistency, the province is also disappointed as there is no formal process for him to appeal.

“It seems illogical to me,” he said. “Especially when we had a team ready to go. We will have PCR (test) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of that (Montpelier) week, antigens tested on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday changed our travel arrangements to fly on game day and Made everyone ready for it. Go.

“You saw at the Wasps (before their home game against Munster in December) how many changes they had on game day.

“I don’t know the specifics of it, I don’t know about it, but certainly when you look from the outside and see what we’re doing and internally here, and even hear Let’s try to make comparisons for. Along with the castres game, they also have six cases.

“Montpellier, last week there were 17 cases I heard between players and staff, more this week, so again I don’t know the specifics I’ve been reading, but it seems to me illogical decision.

“We spoke to the EPCR on Wednesday of the original Montpellier week and we expressed concern about the trip and the 10 days we got stuck (in France if there was a positive test after the trip).

“I know there were obviously a lot of UK teams that were going through that week, about being stuck in France and the pressure from friends and family and everyone else before Christmas. It was a sensitive decision, a sensitive one for me at the time. Draw, as it seemed.

“But we went ahead with the recommendation from the EPCR. It is important to note this. We went ahead with the preparations and then the game was called off even though we had also signed off from Public Health (HSE).

“It’s a little bit from a logical standpoint, but it’s probably on external sources to put more pressure on the decision. We’re doing that in terms of what we can do, so we’ll see what happens with that.”

“Those are questions for the EPCR.

“We are currently battling a 28-0 loss. We’re licking our wounds and we can only spend so much time talking about it because we have to play the next game, which is Montpellier again, in RDS.

“That’s what we tried to do. Because you can drive yourself crazy with despair. There are almost two different stories going on at the moment.

“For now, let’s assume we lost the game 28-0 because that’s where we currently sit. How does it change? You tell me.

“Decisions are made, we can argue about them all day, but a decision has been made. In my opinion it sounds wrong but that is to judge other people. That’s just my reasoning.”

Cullen fears a decision to award Montpellier a 28-0 win could have a major impact on Leinster’s bid for a fifth European title.

While he still has great hope of progressing through the pool stages, it is unlikely that he will get the significant financial and business advantage of topping his ladder, which would have seen him stay in Dublin for the quarters and semi-finals.

“When you lose a game 28-0 and draw, it has huge consequences,” Cullen said.

“Sometimes, it is about seeding later in the tournament when you get a home draw and the time we are living in has all the commercial consequences as well.

“So, it’s a potentially very costly 28-0 loss for us as opposed to a 0-0 draw.

“Yes, it is incomplete but I am just looking for continuity and logic.

“That’s all I’m asking because I haven’t necessarily seen that Wasps game and today, with some of the decisions surrounding the Castres game.

“Even with the situation in Montpellier, where he believes, 17 cases last week.

“Again, I can’t say for sure about the specifics of some of these, as well as more cases this week.

“We just want that, a continuation, and I don’t necessarily think we’ve seen it. But yeah, you’re right, we need to move on.

“For us, we move forward by getting a team ready and ready to play, so we will focus on that.

“We’re getting ready to play Montpellier and getting as many points as we can to give ourselves the best chance we can from where we currently go.”

EPCR declined to comment.